A little over three years ago, Microsoft introduced the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), but it officially it only ran a Bash environment. Last year the company promised to support Linux apps with a full GUI, and now the first preview of that work is here.
You could already use a workaround to run Linux apps with a graphical user interface (GUI), but it wasn’t supported. Speaking from personal experience, it didn’t always work well either. What you go often involved jagged edges, as though you were looking at a low-resolution photo of the app you wanted to test.
It did the job of testing components for development purposes but wasn’t helpful for testing the GUI itself. Now that workaround won’t be necessary as Microsoft sent out a preview of Windows System for Linux with full GUI support. The update should be helpful for anyone doing cross-platform testing that would rather avoid loading up a Linux test box.
Linux GUI apps on WSL will even support audio and microphone operations out of the box without any additional work. Microsoft demonstrated running Audacity in Linux on a Windows box to show how well it works. And thanks to support for your machine’s GPU, Linux apps can run with accelerated 3D graphics, which should help more complex programs run better.
To get started, you’ll need to be on Windows 10 Insiders preview build 21364 or higher. Once you have that installed, you’ll need to either install WSL using the
wsl --install command, or update it if you already have it installed. To update WSL, just run the command